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Published: March 25th 2010
We all really enjoyed being back in Ho Chi Minh City -- seeing the progress, growth and change that is happening there... but today's trip down south brought new flavors, colors, scents and sights that felt distinctly... how else can I say it?? Vietnam-ish. We'll share them with you now ... as we sit in the lobby of the beautiful Victoria Hotel in Chau Doc (close to the border of Cambodia -- and near the school we dedicated 2 years ago). The kids who looked wilted on arrival have recovered from the long journey (due to some familiar food and air-conditioning I believe). Helen, Will and Jake are playing pool. Abby and Carly are itching to get the pictures up on the blog... so let's get started...
We started off early this morning driving south into the Mekong Delta area. We stopped in Long Xuyen to have a lunch of shrimp, squid, chicken (I actually saw Abby smile after eating a chicken wing), noodles, soup, and fruit served family style. We then took a side trip to a floating market and fish farm - amazing (see pics!) -- via small boats. We were all sopping wet from the heat -
but it was definitely worth the sweat! At that point, we needed to choose our next mode of transportation... either to take a detour by bus or boat...due to a landslide that happened two days prior. Either mode was going to take about 4 more hours. Some of us journeyed by simple boat down the Mekong River, some by air-conditioned bus -- and all of us arrived in Chau Doc after about 10 hours of travel. Once in Chau Doc -- Judy, Doug, Sig and Larry (the air-conditioned bus group) all went on to a restaurant as planned - while the kids and their parents (the sweaty boat trip people) opted to stay at the hotel and order pizza (yes they had pizza!).
We get to visit Kids Building Hope's first project tomorrow morning!! Everyone is very excited.
One of our travel mates, Sig, came up with some great questions -- so we'll give some details of our day by answering them...
Describe your day in smells: Carly: "Fish, Fish and more Fish". Sig: Fish, watery grasses and sea growth, dried shrimp, flowers (lotus) Larry: Deisel fuel Tracy: bug spray during the long boat trip; Doug: fish
Fish Farm Bridges
This is one of the many (tiny) bridges between different sections of the fish farm. It's also where Tracy almost fell in the water!
What surprised you most today? Abby: The floating markets -- that people actually lived there. How small it is -- and that the house would be in water. Carly and Abby: didn't realize how people lived right on the water; Tracy: I guess I remember the trash on the banks of the river from last time -- but it is still surprising to see
What person do you remember the most today? Jake: the disabled man trying to sell us lottery tickets (deformed arm and leg). It was hard to look at him and hard to look away. Kris: a man wrestling a huge pig out of the river and onto a boat; Abby: a little boy who ran up to me and shook my hand - then his whole group of friends applauded; Helen: little kids waving to us from the boats; Tracy : the woman who kept me from falling into the river when I lost my balance over a monkey bridge (I think she is still laughing!)
What was the most unusual item you saw being transported by motorbike today: Helen a dog sitting on the bike's foot pedal and a mattress
This picture was taken at the fishing village. We threw food into the water and hundreds of fish instantly jumped at it.
was the area we saw today different from Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City: Will: less pollution; Carly: people were less accustomed to tourists; Larry: not as wealthy; Abby: people were more friendly and outgoing; Tracy: The housing - low to the ground and made out of scrap wood and metal as opposed to tall, skinny buildings
Did you take the boat or the van for the last leg of the trip??? and Why: Carly: I took the boat because when else would I get to cruise down the Mekong river?? Kris: I took the boat, but after 2 hours - questioned my decision because we still had 2 more! Judy: I took the bus because it was air-conditioned. I wasn't feeling well, and the heat outside almost made me faint.
Did you learn a Vietnamese word today: Kids: "mot" (1) "hai" (2) "ba" (3) - "Yo" (Cheers)
Describe the weather: Helen: very, very, very hot, but on the boat it was kind of windy and felt great
What did you think would happen today, and what really happened? Will: I thought we'd have 5 hours in Chau Doc once we got here -- but the trip down
Have you ever seen that your fish from the store was "farm raised in Vietnam"? This is where it's from!
turned out to be 10 hours of travel (bus, ferry boat) so we got here and all I wanted to do was go to bed. (he says in between pool shots)
We went through many towns... How did you see the kids getting to and from school and what they were wearing?: Jake: Kids were on bikes and the backs of bikes. Girls were wearing white traditional dress uniforms; younger kids were wearing blue bottoms and white tops with red ties
Would you want to spend a night at the floating market?? Carly: yes to see what it was like - living there would be so hard though - close quarters, no privacy, we'd be on top of each other. Tracy: I would want to sleep on a hammock on one of the boats (as long as I had a mosquito net)
All in all, it was a fun, interesting, over-stimulating, amazing, challenging, and full day!!
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